Sun Country Health Region embraces the “messiness” of Hoshin Kanri

2012-11-30 Sun Country

Last week I had the privilege of taking part in Sun Country’s strategy deployment session in Weyburn. Officially, I was there to help facilitate the conversations that are part of the deployment process. At the same time, I was curious to see what this process looks like in a health region. Being part of the process here at HQC is one thing, but what I really wanted to see was how Hoshin Kanri plays out in the health system.

I was heartened by what I saw and heard:

  • There was a strong sense of community and camaraderie in the group assembled to determine the health region’s priorities for 2013-14. Conversations were respectful, challenging, candid, and supportive. Power and heirarchy seemed irrelevant. Everyone had the opportunity to speak, share their perspective, ask questions, and contribute. This is truly the foundation for working together to achieve shared goals.
  • Team members recognized that just because someone’s area or project wasn’t identified as a breakthrough initiative didn’t mean it wasn’t important or would stop. The leaders in the room understood that focusing on a few priority areas to move them forward was critical to achieving success. There appeared to be genuine support for the need to “focus and finish” these critical initiatives.
  • They recognized that last year’s strategic plan was very ambitious – maybe too much so — and decided to scale back and more realistically scope their breakthrough initiatives for this year. This was a giant, organization-wide, strategic PDSA cycle in action, if you will.
  • The group embraced the concept of daily management. They didn’t appear to be concerned that they didn’t have a lot of spots in lean leader certification or a long list of RPIWs in their region. They understand that improvement work can still happen through daily management. The Sun Country team is finding creative ways to get better at putting the patient first.

Bob Lloyd, IHI’s Executive Director of Performance Improvement, often talks about of the “messiness” of quality improvement. He likens it to a child eating spaghetti. As adults we don’t want to make a mess, we don’t want to get our hands dirty, and we sure don’t want to spill on our clothes – it’s awkward and embarrassing.

But children don’t care about all of that. They embrace the messiness, enjoy the experience, and don’t worry about the clean up. They appreciate the experience for what it is and do the best they can with what they know and the skills they have at that time.

Hoshin Kanri isn’t clean and easy. At times, it’s messy and frustrating. But what I saw in Sun Country was a collective willingness to take risk, embrace the messiness of it all, and learn to do it better year after year. This is a huge step forward in our thinking and acting as a system, and I know our province will benefit from this new culture we are creating together.

Keep up the good work Sun Country — and everyone else who is learning to embrace the messiness of it all.

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One Response to “Sun Country Health Region embraces the “messiness” of Hoshin Kanri”

  1. Aida
    October 24, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

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